MotoGP: Valentino Rossi joins Franco Morbidelli at PETRONAS Yamaha SRT
After months of speculation, Valentino Rossi and the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team have today confirmed their partnership moving into the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.
The nine-time World Champion will end a 14-year, collaboration with the factory Yamaha squad, and will join Franco Morbidelli in the satellite, PETRONAS Yamaha, Sepang Racing Team outfit ran by Razlan Razali.
The news comes after a hectic few weeks with rumours surrounding the move, with many claiming Andrea Dovizioso would, in fact, step into the team with Rossi announcing retirement, this was quashed by both Razali and Rossi himself, and as we now know was pure speculation.
The news comes later than expected, with Rossi announcing in Misano that the deal would be signed in Barcelona. However, the news did not break on Thursday as expected, with further delays to the contract. Rossi has continued to express that he is in “no rush” to sign the contract, despite it being completed for months.
The 41-year-old Italian is an 89-time Grand Prix race winner with a further 26 wins in the 125cc and 250cc classes. He is also closing in on his 200th premier class podium, his last coming at the 2020 Andalucian Grand Prix back in July.
Valentino Rossi currently lies ninth in the MotoGP World Championship after picking up a fourth in the San Marino Grand Prix just over two weeks ago. Sadly, his hunt for his 200th premier class podium continues after he crashed out of his 250th Grand Prix start with Yamaha last weekend.
Valentino Rossi will join Franco Morbidelli in the PETRONAS Yamaha squad, forming the first all Italian Yamaha team since the modern era of the sport.
Valentino Rossi“I am very happy to continue riding in 2021 and to do it with the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team. I thought a lot before taking this decision, because the challenge is getting hotter and hotter. To be at the top in MotoGP you have to work a lot and hard, to train every day and lead an ’athlete’s life‘, but I still like it and I still want to ride.
“In the first half of the year I made my choice and I talked with Yamaha, who agreed with me. They told me even if there was no place for me in the Factory Team, the factory bike and the factory support were guaranteed.
“I am very happy to move to PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. They are young, but they‘ve shown to be a top team. They are very serious and very well organised. For this year I also changed my crew chief. I‘m very happy with David, and I think we haven‘t reached our best yet. This was one of the reasons why I chose to continue, because the atmosphere in the team is something I like a lot.
“It‘ll be nice to have Franco as my team-mate, as he‘s an Academy rider, it‘s going to be cool. I think we can work together to make good things happen.“
Lin Jarvis – Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing“We are delighted that Valentino will be staying in MotoGP for another year, and we are sure the fans of the sport feel the same way. A substantial part of the MotoGP fanbase will have grown up with Valentino and followed him throughout his career.
“This current and final season with the Factory Yamaha Team is his 25th in the motorcycle Grand Prix racing World Championship and his 15th year with Yamaha.
“Early on we assured Valentino that, should he stay in MotoGP for 2021, Yamaha would continue to give him full support and a Factory YZR-M1. In the end, this is exactly what he decided to do.
“I previously stated that this Covid-19 influenced MotoGP season would not be the appropriate year for such a legendary rider to close his career. Valentino has always been so popular with the fans all around the world, so it‘s great that he has decided to continue for at least another season. Hopefully the fans will be allowed back into the tracks next year to savour watching the GOAT in action again.
“I would like to thank the management of the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team for their enthusiasm and full collaboration to welcome Valentino into their team. They are still quite a ’young‘ team, but they are very professional and serious contenders for race wins and feature in the top of the championship standings, so we are sure that Valentino will feel comfortable and be able to perform at his best level.“
Featured image: Yamaha-Racing